Sea of Thieves is on the way

Most types of historical or genre-based action works in video games these days, but in the current decade we’ve seen a pretty strong collection of pirate games in particular.

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In recent times, 2011’s LEGO Pirates Of The Caribbean started the ball rolling. This was one of the earlier efforts in what’s become an extensive lineup of games based on popular films. While naturally designed with child-friendly graphics and action, the game helped to set the tone for highly entertaining titles invoking everyone from Harry Potter to Batman. And it did so by bringing the swashbuckling, seafaring delights of the Pirates Of The Caribbean films to life.

A more realistic take on the age of piracy was offered up a few years later with the release of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag in 2013. Being the first release in the successful series of historical games to take place largely on the sea, it did a remarkable job, particularly in its presentation of naval battles. Players could explore land and engage in hand-to-hand combat just as they could in previous Assassin’s Creed games, but the ability to control ships and fire cannons made for an exciting and adventurous type of gameplay (even if it had been touched on in Assassin’s Creed III, which took place during the American Revolution).

Pirate gaming has even spread to somewhat-unexpected corners online. Gala Bingo’s online platform is known for games based on fiction and pop culture themes, and one of the newest offerings on the site is titled Fortunate 5. Its description begins with “Ahoy Matey!” and it challenges players to keep an eye out for jackpots from the crow’s nest in what amounts to a slot machine game populated by cartoon pirates.

Aside from this game, there are numerous other pirate-based titles of different styles that have gained popularity in the app stores. We’re also starting to get regular news regarding an upcoming title from Rare that could be the most significant pirate game yet. Sea Of Thieves was announced at E3 last year, and though it faded away from headlines thereafter, it generated quite a bit of excitement. Designed with cartoonish graphics, but consisting of gameplay that looks quite sophisticated (and even has been compared to Destiny), it looks to be a full-fledged high-seas adventure filled with swashbuckling and ocean-bound adventures.

The specifics of the game remain largely mysterious, but a recent rundown of what we know did point out a few interesting details. For instance, the basic premise of the game revolves around the question “what if you could be a pirate?” That may sound obvious, but when you compare it to a game like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which is based on the overarching Assassin’s Creed story, or LEGO Pirates Of The Caribbean, which is based on a film, it’s actually quite original.

In Sea of Thieves, players will customise their own pirates and build their legacies commanding ships, making enemies walk the plank, etc. We also know that Sea Of Thieves will be released in 2016, though a specific date has yet to be revealed. Like other Rare creations it will be an exclusive Microsoft title, meaning it will only be available on Xbox One. It won’t be available for download on Steam, though PC gamers can buy the game and compete with Xbox One players thanks to cross-platform multiplayer.

Given the popularity of pirate games these days and the open, adventurous nature of this concept, Sea Of Thieves could be a surprisingly major 2017 release.

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,